Refine the Study Design

Submit completed problem statement, purpose statement, and project question(s) for a qualitative doctoral project of interest to you.

The Research Problem

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Length: 1 paragraph max.

Download the Applied Degree Concept Paper Template from the week resources.

Purpose: Your purpose statement will be one concise paragraph that describes the intent of your study.  It specifically addresses the reason for conducting the study and will be aligned with the identified problem and the research questions.

Begin the purpose statement with a succinct sentence that indicates the doctoral project method and overarching goal. Next, describe briefly how you will implement that purpose. For example, the purpose sentence of a recent study was, “The purpose of this interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) was to explore the lived experiences of four … military couples from Ft. Sill, Oklahoma Army post as they renegotiate roles and responsibilities after two or more deployments.” Similarly, in your first sentence, identify the type of doctoral project (IPA, qualitative case study, qualitative interview study, etc.). Then, succinctly describe the phenomenon (in this case, renegotiating roles and responsibilities) and what the researcher will do to that phenomenon (explore, describe, etc.).  Finally, in just two or three sentences, describe data sources (including criteria for selection – purposeful sampling), location, and approach to analysis (e.g. thematic analysis).

Length: 1 paragraph max.

See template

Within the Purpose Statement, be sure to address the following:

The doctoral project method is identified as qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods.

The stated purpose reflects the doctoral project questions, or phenomenon/concept/ideas are identified (See the Applied Degree Guidebook for additional information).

The doctoral project design is clearly stated and is aligned with the problem statement.

The participants and/or data sources are identified (See the Applied Degree Guidebook for additional information).

The geographic location of study is identified (as appropriate).
Doctoral Project Questions: You must have at least one doctoral project question. Review Glesne and the Agee article below to discern the nature of qualitative research questions. Qualitative research questions sometime begin with “How…” (process oriented) or “What” (descriptive, often of the interpretation of participants of their experiences encountering a specific situation (a.k.a. phenomenon, such the renegotiation of roles and responsibilities in the dissertation mentioned above). Read more at

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Length: 1 paragraph max., including numbered questions: Q1, Q2, etc.

See template: The doctoral project questions are to be distinct and answerable, given the identified constructs/phenomenon and population.  Note: Do not include specific interview or survey question/items here. The proposed doctoral project questions must be aligned with purpose statement.  Qualitative research questions should be open-ended and reflect the nature of the qualitative design (avoid yes/no and closed-ended questions).

Doctoral Project Methods: Describe your overall approach (e.g., qualitative interview project) and how that fits your project purpose. Then, describe your sample size and method for selecting participants (or other data sources). Note how you will collect data (interview, observation, focus groups, document analysis, etc.). Describe your data analysis process. Then, describe your role as scholar, as instrument (for both data collection and analysis), and the ethical issues you are likely to face and how you will address them. Provide a rationale for you choices of methods (sampling, data collection, data analysis, etc.) and support your decisions with a citation of a methodology source (e.g., Agee, Glesne, Groenewald). 

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